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VIDEO: Construction Begins in Queens, N.Y. On Power Converter Station for Transmission Line

Thu September 28, 2023 - Northeast Edition #21
NCPR & The Sun

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and other officials gathered in Queens Sept. 19 for the ceremonial groundbreaking of a new power converter station, part of a major hydroelectricity project that will run through two of the largest waterways in the state's North Country.

The 339-mi. Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) will deliver carbon-free electricity from northern Quebec to power over a million homes in New York City. Much of it will be laid along the bottoms of the Hudson River and Lake Champlain, according to North Country Public Radio (NCPR).

Officials hope the project will accelerate progress toward helping New York State reach its goal of 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030 as required by the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Hochul described that transition as necessary.

"We are now living the effects of what has happened over decades, with people not caring about what poison is being emitted into our waters, our streams, our air, and not caring about what is happening with all the discharges of carbon into our atmosphere."

She also blamed extreme weather linked to climate change, like historic snowstorms and flooding, and severe air quality in the state over the last year.

Hochul said it is important to do what is right for future generations.

"We are called upon to plan the future, to make it a better experience, better existence for our children and grandchildren," she noted. "Shame on us if we don't act with urgency in this moment, because future generations will not look kindly upon us if we do not."

The governor was joined at the power converter station's groundbreaking by U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary David Turk, Quebec Premier Francois Legault, and Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke.

International and local applause followed the start of construction on the converter station for the transmission line, according to The Sun, another news source in the state's North Country.

Once completed, the CHPE facility in Astoria, Queens, will convert 1,250 megawatts of clean energy from direct current to alternating current power that will be fed directly into New York City's power grid.

The competitively priced hydropower provided by CHPE from Québec is expected to reduce harmful emissions by 3.7 million metric tons — the equivalent of removing approximately 44 percent of the cars from New York City streets, the Sun news site learned.

In addition, the project also is expected to provide a total of $3.5 billion in economic benefits to New Yorkers and create approximately 1,400 family-sustaining jobs during construction, with a commitment to use a significant amount of union labor.

Remediation Efforts Prepared Site for Construction

Construction on the converter station officially began on June 22, including significant remediation work that was required to prepare the site for building the zero-emissions facility.

In total, the Sun noted that six tanks which previously stored 12 million gallons of No. 6 oil, as well as nearly 4 mi. of piping, were removed from the site. During peak construction, approximately 150 union workers will develop the facility with Kiewit Corp. serving as the project's lead contractor.

Construction on CHPE first began last Nov. 30 in Whitehall, N.Y., and since then, project crews have been executing and preparing for construction activity throughout the eastern edge of the state, including in Plattsburgh where the North Country Chamber of Commerce quickly welcomed the official start of work during the Queens event.

"The North Country Chamber has been an active supporter of this historic initiative since its beginnings," said chamber President Garry Douglas. "New York needs substantial new quantities of power going forward and Quebec has it. It is logical to take the already substantial and multi-faceted Quebec-New York economic partnership to a new level of integration through this clean energy collaboration.

"It is important to meeting our needs and it is an important deepening of the Quebec-New York relationship," he continued. "It was heartening to see Gov. Kathy Hochul and Quebec Premier Francois Legault joined side by side in the groundbreaking."

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